Team Cossar roars at Leicester! Sidecar Speedway Team Tournament – Race Report and Results
Even a downpour prior to the first heat was not enough to dampen the spirits of the sidecar speedway fraternity last night at Leicester, as they produced a night of excellent 1000cc sidecar racing which just got better and better. After the rain had stopped, the circuit was left to settle itself and racing just got faster and closer, with the quickest time of the night being recorded in the final heat of the event.
Report and Result Images courtesy of Gareth Bemister – Feature stock image by Darren Nokes
And as the four teams, led by team captains Mark Cossar, Mick Cave, Paul Whitelam and Rob Wilson, entered the final heat, three of the four teams were still able to clinch the first ever Team Challenge trophy.
In the heats, Mark Cossar and passenger Carl Blyth were in sensational form. They won all of their three heats convincingly on the lead up to the final, with brother Tom and passenger Mark Hopkins packing plenty of points on the board too with three seconds and a fine win in their final ride- impressive considering it was Tom’s R1 crossplane Grasstrack outfit’s debut on the shale. Will Offen/Josh Russell had plenty of speed and put it two solid rides to claim second place, but drama struck in their final ride when they touched the tapes. This set up the last heat decider.
Mick Cave and Bradley Reynolds led their team to the final showdown well, winning two out of their three heats before the final race. Consistent scoring from the other members of Team Cavey put them in contention going into the final race, with Will Penfold/Carl Pugh having some dogged, determined rides throughout.
Paul Whitelam, partnered by Robbie Simmons for the first time, had ridden well in their opening two rides, winning comfortably, before finishing third in their third heat. Luckily for Team Whitelam, Matthew Fumarola/Gareth Williams were packing in points themselves, winning their opening race and leading home rival team captain Mick Cave, and finishing second in their final two rides. Shaun Harvey/Danny Hogg got quicker on their new machinery as the night progessed, scoring an excellent victory in their final race to put Team Whitelam well into contention going into the final heat.
Team Wilson, led by Rob Wilson and Terry Saunters suffered some sore luck. Captain Wilson and passenger Saunters rode remarkably, claiming three wins out of three going into the final heat decided. But his team was racked with bad luck and problems. Mick Stace and Roddy Stirling had mysterious machine trouble from the very first heat. They failed to ride in their opening heat. They did, however, get the machine going later in the evening and took a fantastic win in their final ride- but it was all too late by this stage. Equally unfortunate was newcomers Jack Penfold and Kieron Ivy. They looked the quickest that they’ve looked all season, and won a tremendous Heat 15, overcoming Paul Whitelam/Robbie Simmons and Will Offen/Josh Russell in a fantastic, action packed race. Sadly, Penfold/Ivy came to a grinding halt whilst leading in their final ride, their kill-switch cord had dropped out killing the engine. Stef Blyth/Sam Fumarola, who were following them in close proximity, narrowly avoided catastrophe, catching the fairing of Penfold/Ivy before managing to negotiate their way past the stricken outfit. But perhaps the most unfortunate of all of Team Wilson was George Penfold/Ryan Barker. They have been in superb form on the Grass this season, but seem to have hit rotten luck in the last few weeks, having blown their R1 Crossplane up at the Poacher. And last night, lady luck continued to abandon them, with three out of four of the races seeing Penfold/Barker trying desperately to push the machine to get it going. Poor luck for Team Wilson saw them out of contention going into the final heat showdown. All three crews showed great potential when their machinery wasn’t letting them down- but that’s racing.
And so to the final heat decider- Narrowly leading was Team Whitelam. After a strong last leg, which saw a win for Harvey/Hogg, they led on 25 points, with Team Cossar on 24. Still with an outside chance, Team Cave sat on 22 points and would need a lot of stars to align to take the victory, but on such an unpredictable night, anything seemed feasible.
In the race itself, Cossar/Blyth were simply sublime. They led from start to finish. Cave/Reynolds had to muscle their way through a tight first turn to get into second place and held Wilson/Saunters at bay for four of the fastest laps seen all night. A victory for Cossar/Blyth, and a fourth for Whitelam/Simmons meant that Team Cossar were victorious in the inaugural Sidecar Speedway Team Challenge.
A fascinating format of racing, even teams and a circuit which got better and better as the night went on led to a fabulous evening’s entertainment for the Leicester crowd. The next time to sidecar speedway circus heads to the track will be at Belle Vue’s magnificent National Speedway Stadium in Manchester on Saturday 13th October for the final round of the British Sidecar Speedway Championships 2018. Head to the facebook group ‘Sidecar Speedway GB’ for all information on the event as well as the website www.sidecarspeedway.co.uk.